Gates Memo Sought ‘Military Options’ Against Iran

Secretary Insists Classified Memo Taken Out of Context

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates angrily reacted to media reports of his classified memo to National Security Adviser James Jones about Iran, claiming that the memo has been taken out of context and was just part of an “orderly and timely decision making process.”

The memo warned that Iran might go through all the steps of producing a nuclear weapon except for the part where they actually produce a nuclear weapon, and warned that the Obama Administration didn’t have a good strategy for what to do in that event.

Though the memo was said to have centered around new discussions to plan for that eventuality, all indications are that Secretary Gates’ solutions were military ones, and that what he chiefly sought were specific strategies for launching a military attack on Iran.

The head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen once again reiterated today that attacking Iran should be absolutely a last resort, but added that “all options remain on the table.” The US and Israel have repeatedly threatened to attack Iran over their civilian program.

The real issue raised by the Gates memo is that the presumptive future status of Iran as “virtual” nuclear power, without actually violating the nuclear NPT in any way or doing anything but continuing their civilian nuclear program, would be sufficient justification for a military attack. This would seem to lower the bar considerably, and would moot the issue of the inability of the Bush and now Obama Administrations to provide any specific evidence of Iranian wrongdoing.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of